I have heard some describe the fallout from the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families in the family law context as the inevitable “tsunami”. I hope the forecast of a “tsunami” proves incorrect, but I do predict that there will be a wave of variation cases (Motions to Change) when the COVID-19 pandemic retreats. The uncertainty, financial hardships and imposed togetherness may be straining already fragile relationships. Studies have shown that divorce rates are rising in China after couples emerge from the COVID-19 quarantine. The reality is that COVID-19 has and will negatively impact individuals’ and family’s lives.
I anticipate that there will be an increase in support payors seeking to reduce their child and spousal support obligations as a result of COVID-19’s negative impact upon their income. This variation wave will be met with support recipients seeking to limit the reduction in child and spousal support payments they receive. Currently such motions will not be heard by the Courts unless deemed “urgent”. This means that the Courts currently are not available to assist individuals in resolving such dispute(s). Major delays are expected once Courts resume full operations due to the backlog created while services have been suspended.
There are options available to assist individuals and parties in resolving disputes until our Courts resume regular operations and the backlog has been dealt with. Your lawyer can negotiate a resolution on your behalf, or you can consider the range of dispute resolution alternatives that are available, such as mediation or arbitration. A new initiative offered in London while the Courts have suspended all services but urgent matters is called the “Non-Urgent Motion Arbitration Program” or NUMAP, which may be appropriate for your matter.
If you would like more information about what your options are, I can be reached via email or by phone at 519-660-7782.